Multiple medals for HHS Nordic ski team at provincial championships

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Main photo: Members of the HHS Junior Girls Nordic team (from left) Maddie Arsenault, Grace Gaughn, Sophia Marshall and Emma Dickson jump for joy at the 2019 OFSAA provincial championships. Missing from photo: McKinley Ballantyne and Emily Angell. (supplied)

Twenty-four athletes from Huntsville High School’s Nordic ski team competed at the 2019 OFSAA Nordic Ski Championships at Duntroon Highlands Nordic Ski Club with stellar results.

For the competition, held February 28 – March 1, HHS fielded junior girls, junior boys, and senior boys teams along with seven individuals who also qualified to compete in each of the categories: junior girls, junior boys, senior girls and senior boys. This year, OFSAA recognized the efforts of club-trained athletes (open category) and high school-trained athletes separately. The athletes all competed on the same course, with the results separated into the two categories.

HHS athletes shone in both groups.

Distance events were held on day one of competition.

Sophia Marshall won the gold medal to take the podium as the Junior Girls champion in the club-trained category for the first time in HHS history of Nordic skiing. Emma Dickson earned fifth place for the high school-trained category and the Junior Girls team placed sixth overall with their total score.

In the Junior Boys category,  Zak Varieur won the silver medal in the club-trained category. In the high school-trained category, Ryan Clarke placed second and Cole Punchard narrowly missed the podium by two seconds to capture fourth, said the team’s coach, John Cowan. Overall, the Junior Boys team placed sixth.

The Senior Girls team had two athletes, Madeline Horton and Stella Keay, who completed a top 60 performance out of 186 competitors.

On the Senior Boys team, Riley deGans captured the bronze medal in the open category. In the high school-trained category, David Laughton captured silver and Cameron Heinz won bronze. Mark Cheek raced in the Special Olympic category and brought home the gold. The Senior Boys team was recognized with silver medals after day one results.

Members of the HHS Nordic Senior Boys ski team (from left) Eric Bertelsen, Riley deGans, Cameron Heinz, Aiden McClung, David Laughton and Owen Johnstone who, due to earlier injury, was unable to compete but was there to support the team. Missing from photo: Nolan Parsons and Kyle Kingshott. (supplied)

On day two, athletes competed in teams of four in the sprint relays.

The Junior Girls team—Sophia Marshall, Grace Gaughn, Maddie Arsenault and Emma Dickson—finished third in their semi-final heat. “In the final relay, the girls left everything out on the course and powered into the finish line for fifth,” said Cowan.

The Junior Boys sprint relay team—Ryan Clarke, Cole Punchard, Keenan Patterson and Zak Varieur—finished third in the semi-final race and moved on to the final. “In the final, the boys with a strong effort finished sixth,” said Cowan.

The HHS Nordic Junior Boys team at OFSAA 2019 (from left) Gavin McPhee, Keenan Patterson, Zak Varieur, Ryan Clarke, and Cole Punchard. (supplied)

The HHS Nordic Junior Boys team at OFSAA 2019 (from left) Gavin McPhee, Keenan Patterson, Zak Varieur, Ryan Clarke, and Cole Punchard. (supplied)

The Senior Boys sprint relay team—David Laughton leading, Aiden McClung, Cameron Heinz, and anchor Riley deGans—competed in the semi-finals for the win. In their final race, “the battle between the teams saw Huntsville go from first to fourth over the course of the laps around the sprint course. In a nail-biter to the end, Huntsville senior boys captured bronze,” said Cowan.

OFSAA Nordic also recognized the top eight combined teams in the province. The HHS Junior Boys and Junior Girls teams qualify for the combined team score, and the Hoyas attained the third place Junior combined score in the province.

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